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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Miguel Soto’s Pro Bono Work Helps Clients Clear Debt Lawsuits


By Alison Ponder, VLSP Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps Fellow

The Volunteer Legal Services Program’s (VLSP) Consumer Project provides legal advice and representation to low-income members of the community struggling with consumer debt. The project derives much of its strength and success to the work of local attorneys with a commitment to pro bono service. Consumer Project volunteers staff bi-weekly Consumer Debt Defense and Education Clinics and also provide representation to clients defending against lawsuits brought by third-party debt buyers. Miguel Soto, an attorney with a strong track record in defending the rights of consumers, is a volunteer who has made a huge impact on the project and on the lives of several of its clients.

Soto began volunteering with the Consumer Project in August 2011 and has already represented seven low-income clients in debt collection lawsuits. Regardless of his busy work schedule as a solo consumer law practitioner in San Jose, Soto is always willing to support the project by taking on another pro bono case. During his time as a volunteer, Soto has secured a number of dismissals. Most recently, he successfully represented a low-income client in a lawsuit brought by a company that had purchased the client’s debt from the original creditor. His client, employed in a low-wage job, had consistently struggled to make ends meet with her income. After meeting with the client, discussing the case with her, and reviewing the documents she provided, Soto quickly identified that the debt in question was beyond the statute of limitations. Soto’s zealous advocacy in this case resulted in a swift dismissal of the lawsuit.
Soto cites the most rewarding moment of pro bono work is the initial interaction with the client: “Many of them are visibly relieved to find out that they won’t have to navigate a lawsuit on their own, and doubly relieved when they’re reassured that they have a stronger case than they initially believed.”

When he’s not busy working or volunteering, Soto enjoys spending time developing his culinary skills through cooking and baking. “Cheesecakes in particular are my passion, although cookies and cupcakes are a common sight around my house as well.”

Volunteering with the Consumer Project is an excellent way to help low-income people deeply impacted by the current economic crisis while learning a relevant area of the law and developing litigation skills.

For more information about how to get involved, please contact

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